Rustenburg’s blame game: residents complain about poor service delivery, mayor blames community
Rustenburg’s rapid transit system, which cost more than R3 billion, is still not operational. Photo: Tebogo Letsie
The Rustenburg Rapid Transit System (RRT) of 3.3 billion rand, which is not yet operational more than 10 years after its creation, has become a headache for the local municipality of Rustenburg, which is already in the struggling with service delivery challenges that include aging water and sanitation infrastructure.
After a day of light rain, vehicles slowly roll around or over waterlogged potholes that dot several roads through Tlhabane Township in the northwest.
There are pockets of illegal dumping in the area, the largest of which grew larger after being used as a dumping ground for rubble, sand, stones and various other construction materials from the Tlhabane Square construction site, a new shopping center in the area.
Some streets in Tlhabane have potholes which present a driving hazard, especially when it is raining
There were sporadic sites where the local municipality faced burst pipes and sewer spills, some of which spilled into people’s properties and caused their household plumbing pipes to clog and spill.
Many said their problems with water and sanitation infrastructure are only resolved so that the solution lasts a little while before the problems reappear later.
The outgoing mayor of Rustenburg, Mpho Khunou, acknowledged several service delivery issues facing the municipality, but said they had done their part as local government. He criticized communities for lacking cooperation and for not looking after public infrastructure.
City Press reported just over a year ago that the RRT project was moving at a snail’s pace, with many bus stations still under construction while others had been somehow abandoned incomplete and left covered with shrubs and grass.
READ: R3.3 billion and 14 years later Rustenburg’s bus system remains incomplete
Nothing has changed much on a visit to the area last week, with many stations still cordoned off as construction sites while others, especially in town, have taken shape and even planted flowers in outside, but do not seem ready to accommodate commuters.
The bus system was originally scheduled to be operational in early 2020, but when that did not happen, the municipality said last year that the plan was to implement Phase 1A – the Tlhabane Corridor – as that pilot from October 2020, which would be followed by a full launch in January 2021 and other phases until January 2022.
More than a year later, the first phase has yet to be implemented. However, Khunou said there were valid reasons for the delay, adding that they had purchased at least 12 buses.
A resident of Tlhabane says city workers came to dig a hole in her yard and did not return to finish the job.
He said they were “more than ready to implement the first phase”. The incompleteness of the bus stations does not mean that the municipality cannot implement the service, Khunou said.
âThe main and main roads are finished, as are some bus stations. Driver training has been completed and an interim deposit is settled, but there is a huge stumbling block around the issue of compensation.
âThere are taxi operators on the routes we intend to operate on, and they need to be compensated before we can implement the first phase of Tlhabane at CBD,â he said.
âThere are nine taxi associations on this route, but we cannot reach an agreement on compensation. There are around 1,000 taxi operators, [whom] we offered 750,000 rand each to buy them on that route, but they wanted 1.9 million rand per operator certificate. Our final offer is 1 million rand and now they want 1.6 million rand. “
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âThere is now a revised offer of 1.2 million rand plus 100,000 rand for tax registrants. If they come back tomorrow and accept the offer, it will just be a matter of taking care of some logistics and everything will be underway for the first phase of the RRT.
Regarding illegal dumping, Khunou said there are plans to rehabilitate the site which contains rubble from the new shopping center. He was adamant that the goal was to rehabilitate the area, but they were disrupted by local businessmen who wanted to be part of the project.
âIllegal dumping is usually a big problem that desperately needs the cooperation of the community to put an end to it. We can clean up today and put big bins on site, but our people will be dumping all kinds of garbage right next to them that same evening, âhe said.
An illegal dump near a kindergarten in Tlhabane
Tlhabane resident Margaret Lebese said last Friday that she struggled with a pipe that has burst repeatedly over the years.
“They came over, broke my wall and dug this big trench and I haven’t had any water for days … I’m sure I’m spending my weekend like this.” I had to break some of the rooms my son lived in because of the pipes that kept bursting, âsaid Lebese.
Khunou said his municipality has spent R100 million to replace aging water and sanitation infrastructure over the past three years. He said pipe blockages were sometimes caused by things residents dump into the sewer system, such as “human remains, especially fetuses.”
He said his municipality has invested billions of dollars in infrastructure over the years, including R 1 billion in roads and R 120 million in electricity.